As new parents, you might be surprised to hear that one of the most common sources of marital conflict is exhaustion. You probably never imagined that simply lack of sleep could end up causing such tension in your relationship, but it does for many couples who are adjusting to life with a newborn.
The first few months with an infant can leave you feeling like you’re on constant high alert, ready at any moment to spring into action and tend to your baby’s needs. And yet, during this time, even the most minor things like changing diapers or preparing bottles can feel overwhelmingly tedious and draining. The same goes for naps and breaks – while all parents should take some time out for themselves every day, when you don’t get enough sleep and rest yourself, and then you come back to your baby, it can quickly start to feel like more work. And, of course, you need time for both sleep and relaxation; it’s not an option to sacrifice one for the other.
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Figure out why we get so tired after having our children! As always, it comes down to science!!! Most new mothers breastfeed, which means your estrogen levels will stay low throughout breastfeeding (yes, even if you exclusively pump. Your estrogen levels play an essential role in what we commonly call “mommy brain,” which is an actual thing. When your estrogen levels are low, you will feel foggy and get tired quickly!
It’s simple science. Your body just isn’t getting the proper nutrients that it needs to function correctly due to breastfeeding, so the reduced mental capability is a symptom of not having enough estrogen because estrogen helps keep your mind sharp. The other reason moms get so exhausted is because they usually have unsupportive friends and family members who tell them things like, “You should sleep when the baby sleeps!” Or “You can finally take a shower in peace now!” These women do not understand the concept of postpartum depression, which comes from lack of support, feeling alone, or poor self-esteem.
So how does one combat this and regain the energy you had before having a child? Here are some simple steps to take:
Make sure you get enough estrogen.
This will be near impossible if you exclusively breastfeed, but there is hope. You can switch over to formula (breast milk, not cow milk), and your body will begin creating more estrogen by itself, which means you won’t feel like a zombie anymore!!! I know many women who have done this, and it saved their life! They were able to enjoy motherhood instead of feeling like a robot with no emotions or desires. Remember that giving birth isn’t what makes you tired. It’s everything else after that tires you out.
Make sure you get enough sleep.
Most new mothers only average about 3 hours of sleep at night until their child is school-aged, and then they start averaging six or more (which still isn’t a lot). If this sounds like you, that’s okay but try your best to get in some extra time whenever possible. Newborns don’t care if mama has bags under her eyes and won’t be able to tell the difference between mommy sleeping all day versus mommy sleeping when the baby sleeps, so find ways for YOU to rest when baby does!!! Some examples are taking long naps, drinking lots of water before bed, or even just laying down when the baby is napping in their room. Your body will thank you for it later.
Find an activity that will help take your mind off things.
Whether you walk, read, draw, or take a hot bubble bath is especially important if you are experiencing postpartum depression. You need to occupy yourself with something healthy so that negative thoughts don’t take over your brain like they often do when mommies are alone with their children! I know many women who go for walks outside (in the fresh air) and listen to music on headphones or talk shows to distract them from PPD. These simple distractions can make a difference in how much mental clarity/energy you have throughout the day.
Eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables can also help combat fatigue. Carbs like bread, cereal, and pasta are fine, too; avoid overeating them because that will make you feel sluggish.
Get Some Exercise
New mothers need to engage in gentle exercise every day (like walking). Exercising regularly will help you lose weight from pregnancy faster and more efficiently, improve your mood, give you more energy, reduce stress and anxiety, increase your sense of well-being, feel better about yourself overall, and promote good sleep patterns by promoting good sleep patterns increasing body temperature at night. You don’t have to spend hours in the gym either! Thirty minutes a day three times a week is plenty of time to exercise, with at least one rest day in between.
Get Out into the World
Make an effort to get out of the house and engage with other people no matter how tired you feel. Take your baby with you if possible so they can begin learning about the world around them.
Accept Help from Friends and Family
You do not have to go through this alone! Enlist help from family members or friends who are willing to provide some relief for you by watching your baby while you take a break (even if it’s just for 15 minutes). If nobody offers, ask them, “I could really use any help that I can get right now, would you be able to watch my baby for 10 minutes while I go take a shower?”
Take Care of Your Baby
Don’t forget that the whole reason you’re experiencing this exhaustion is that there’s a brand-new baby in your life who desperately needs your attention! So make sure to get up and hold/soothe/nurse/play with your baby as much as possible to help them feel secure. Remember, if you don’t care for their basic needs, nobody else will.
Mommy stressors should be minimized or eliminated after you have a baby. Your body is already tired from giving birth and having another human being rely on you for everything.
-Remember that PPD isn’t something to be ashamed of! It’s okay if you feel sad. Sometimes it’s a motherhood rite of passage!! If someone tries to tell you otherwise, I suggest not engaging in conversation with them because they don’t know what it’s like to be a mother!!! Sometimes we need other people who understand what we are going through, so I recommend physically or online joining a mommy group. Just get out there and talk about things that bother you with someone else who will at least try to relate! You will be so surprised at the benefits of sharing your experiences with others who will understand.
Remember that new moms need to take care of themselves just like they did when they were pregnant because if you don’t, you won’t adequately provide for your child.
How to face new mom exhaustion challenges
The new mom’s long days of no sleep don’t make life simple. She is not only tired but also exhausted, which makes her a target for happiness and sadness. During this period, it can be challenging to get enough rest. Exhaustion is a combination of stress and the lack of sleep associated with caring for an infant. Sleep deprivation can result from insufficient night’s rest, changes in daily rhythms, early waking by the baby-and often all three. In addition to feeling” much or very much” tired, deprived of sleep, and experiencing exhaustion during the day, there are other vital signs that parents should look for if they want to identify some behavior problems in their child:
● Withdrawn / reticent
● Less interested in interacting with others
● Less active
● Easily frustrated or irritable
● Low energy / no desire to play
● Fatigue quickly / falls asleep in odd places and situations (in a stroller, during a meal…)
● Decreased appetite.
● Fussy and cranky more often than usual.
Excessive crying for hours on end. The need to change diapers frequently can be related to dehydration from diarrhea or excessive vomiting from gastrointestinal viruses that cause the flu. If the baby cries excessively, they may also lack sleep. Thus they are both tired and exhausted. In this sense, it is necessary to recognize that there are two types of exhaustion: physical and emotional, so we must take care of ourselves and our emotions to have a better quality of life.
In addition, when the new mom is exhausted, it can be challenging to follow a healthy lifestyle. She feels that she does not have time or energy to eat well and often eats junk food instead of home-cooked meals, which causes an increase in weight during this period.
If all these problems cause fatigue, there is a risk that the mother will develop clinical depression. If you feel sad, hopeless, helpless, and find yourself crying for no apparent reason; feeling extremely tired; having little interest in things that used to give pleasure (for example, playing with your partner); sleeping excessively or other symptoms that overlap with those above, then seek help from your family doctor or community nurse who will refer you to a specialist.
It is recommended that new moms take care of themselves, get enough rest, eat healthily, and follow a regular lifestyle. Some exercises can help us feel better physically and emotionally:
● During the day, it’s important not to miss meals or snacks to compensate with junk food later.
● Try to sleep 7-8 hours a night lying down in a comfortable position for both you and your baby, turning off the TV an hour before bedtime.
● The body will be more relaxed if we rest 30 minutes before going to sleep.
● To lose muscle tone, make sure there is time set aside every day for at least 20 minutes of exercise, go for walks with your stroller in the afternoon when the baby is sleeping, go to the gym, or do a simple stretching routine.
● Even though you can’t always have a healthy diet, try to avoid too much sugar and rich food that cause weight gain during this period. Eat enough fruits and vegetables full of nutrients that will help you get through this time without depression or sadness. When choosing food from a menu, choose what appeals to you from meat dishes or other sources such as pasta.
If sleep deprivation is prolonged, it can cause behavioral problems because fatigue affects mood, and irritability increases frustration-leading the baby to cry more often. To prevent these kinds of behavior problems in your child, you should take care of yourself so that the symptoms are not symptoms of depression, which will require professional attention.
So you love your kids, but sometimes you wish they could be more independent. You try to play with them or read to them, but that only lasts for about an hour before your patience is completely gone. They are your responsibility, and you feel like they take up all of your time. It’s tough being a mom, especially when you’re exhausted all the time. Here are some tips on how to be a better mom when you don’t have enough energy:
1) Put gadgets away during family time.
There is nothing worse than seeing families playing with their phones instead of spending quality time together. Instead of putting everything down, use the moments during dinner to check up on each other’s day and see if anything is going on that needs to be addressed. There will always be time to check your phone later, so enjoy the time with your loved ones.
2) Set a schedule.
This is tough when you have little ones who are still making messes and crying, but it’s essential to establish some schedule for everybody to plan. If they happen to throw a fit or make a mess, take care of it immediately instead of putting it off. Try waking up 10 minutes earlier than usual and put yourself on autopilot before the kids wake up; this way, you won’t feel rushed in the morning.
3) Get comfortable toys that require very little upkeep.
You may not want to hear this, and nobody does, but Barbie dolls, Nintendo DS’s, and Barbie cars are not that entertaining. When you’re exhausted, it means that your patience is completely drained, so you need something easy to play with. Boring board games or simple crafts are the perfect remedy for being a better mom but not having any energy.
4) Let them do chores.
Even if they can only put away dishes, this is an excellent way for them to contribute without making too much of a mess. Again, it will get dull over time, but your kids want to help out! This is precisely the type of thing that should go on their chore chart to keep everybody accountable. If nothing else, at least make sure they clean up their rooms every once in a while.
5) Take your time with them.
When you’re exhausted, it’s easy to get frustrated that they don’t understand instructions right away. However, this is an excellent way to learn and make them feel more independent as they grow up. If they haven’t figured out how to put on their shoes yet, make sure you tell them precisely what to do instead of just shoving their feet into the boots and zipping them up. It may take some extra time, but it will help in the long run. The next generation depends on us; let’s start acting like it.
Overcoming Exhaustion as a New Mom Is Very Important
A new mom-to-be can find herself producing so much milk that she feels like her body is turning into a dairy farm. But often, the mother isn’t getting enough rest and becomes mistakenly diagnosed with what we call ‘Milk Fever. The symptoms of this condition mimic those of exhaustion, an inability to get out of bed (and stay there), and a loss of appetite. Through experience, I’ve learned that these symptoms appear after prolonged breastfeeding sessions and tend to clear up when the baby gets their twin teeth in at about 8-10 months old. If you think you may have this mysterious condition, try these five ways to stop feeling exhausted:
Drink lots of water. This will keep your system flushed and give you more energy.
Eat small meals five times a day. This will keep your body fueled and ready for any strenuous activities (like breastfeeding or changing 30+ diapers a day).
Find time to exercise every day, with your baby in tow. You must stay active during this hyper-productive period of life. It keeps the blood pumping and young ones entertained while supporting mommy.
Get out and enjoy mother nature at least twice a week; take her on a picnic, go swimming…anything outside! Do something different once a week; keeping your mind stimulated is essential too.
Make time for yourself each night by taking an hour to relax before bed. Do something that you enjoy each night, whether it be reading a book or watching some television.
Taking care of yourself is essential. Moms are the heart and soul of our homes, so don’t be afraid to take time for yourself when you need it. -Anna Waters, Doula